Victims of Arizona Rampage Move On, Without Letting Go

By: From NPR News, All Things Considered
By: From NPR News, All Things Considered
NPR got some thoughts from three of the people whose grim memories are seared to them permanently, after the January attack that wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and left six others dead.

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is shown in the first photos released after she was shot during a town hall meeting in January

TUCSON, Arizona (NPR) -- We've heard from Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in recent days about her slow recovery from being shot in the head at her supermarket Congressional forum on January 8th.

There were 18 other victims of that day's shooting rampage in Tucson — six of whom died. And beyond them, there are dozens of family members and loved ones in pain about what happened.

Ron Barber was shot in the face and thigh. Physically, he's much better. In July, he returned to work half days as Giffords' congressional district director. There's a small scar on his cheek and one of his legs is still numb. But Barber "still has nightmares," Ted reports.

"I'll never forget what I saw that morning," Barber says. "Seeing Gabby shot and seeing Gabe [Zimmerman, a Giffords aide] die ... those two images are just seared into my head."

Being back at work has helped him move on, says Barber. But, "it's bittersweet ... every day I'm here I'm reminded that Gabe is not here."

Sue Hileman had taken a 9-year-old neighbor, Christina-Taylor Green, to the event Giffords was holding at a Tucson strip mall that day. They were both shot. Christina-Taylor died. Hileman's hip was shattered. Now, gardening provides her with some comfort.

"I take these flowers," she tells Ted, "and I put them in and the soil feels good and it's living and it's going to grow and get bigger and life goes on."

There's a paradox, Hileman says:

"I'm here. The sun is out. I'm having an interesting conversation [and] doing something that I love." But then, "I remember January. It comes and bites you. It jumps up. ... My friends lost their daughter. ... I don't know what to do about that. I don't know where to put that and I don't know that I ever will. But I can think about it now without sobbing."

Zimmerman — 30-year-old Gabe's father — is the most pragmatic of the three, as Ted says.

"I don't like it one little bit," Zimmerman says of losing his son. "I would do anything to roll all that back."

But at the same time, says Zimmerman, "it's not like there's anything I can do about it. ... I got a dead kid, [so] what do I do? I keep moving forward. That's what Gabe would prefer."

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